Last week we looked at Jesus’ teaching regarding anxiety and where we should put our hope and our focus. Today, we are going to look at how the Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 7. I didn’t do a great job of planning out how to segment Chapters 6 and 7, so today we’ll just knock out the whole chapter today. Next week, we’ll be jumping ahead to the fulfillment of the Gospel at the cross in time for Easter.
Summing Up the Law and the Prophets
As we close out the sermon on the mount, we will see Jesus take all of the teaching on Worship and service for our fellow-man, with our focus on treasures in heaven and our anxiety, hope, and trust laid firmly at the throne of God, how are we to conduct ourselves?
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
The first section is often misquoted and twisted to rebuke any who declare Truth in the face of error, and rebuke sin and falsehood. Is Jesus saying we are not to rebuke sinfulness? Absolutely not. This section needs to be read in context of the entire sermon, both what has already been spoken and what is still coming later in the chapter. Let’s look at how Jesus followed up His demonstration of how we are to pray in the preceding chapter.
Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
There is a difference between identifying sin and falsehood, and sitting in judgement over our neighbor. Don’t let anyone silence you from preaching God’s Law, practicing discernment, or rebuking sin. However, in your rebuke, discernment, or preaching of the Law do not stop short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. And when your brother (or sister) repents, forgive him (or her) for the sake of the Gospel and for our own forgiveness according to Jesus. To sit in judgement over a brother or a sister, is to place yourself in the wrong seat. Jesus Christ is the Judge. We are to provide counsel to our brothers and sisters, and some of us are called to shepherd Christ’s flock, but we will all answer to the Judge, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Verse 6 is a tough verse. As we deal with it in this present context, it seems to be addressing those to whom both Law and Gospel have been preached yet they remain unrepentant. Bearing in mind that we are NOT to take the judgment seat and damn the unbeliever to hell for their unbelief, we also shouldn’t attempt to pour out holy gifts (of teaching, sound doctrine, and eternal promises) unbelievers. For an unrepentant, faithless, generation will simply trample these things underfoot and turn to attack you. Let that be a warning to those caught up in the “churching the unchurched” bandwagon. Church is for believers, for the repentant sinner-saved-by-grace, not for the unbelieving. For this understanding, I’m drawing heavily from the Reformation Study Bible’s cross-reference to Acts 13.
Acts 13:44-51 (ESV)
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
In that last portion, we see Paul and Barnabas doing as Jesus taught His disciples when He sent them out (Matthew 10:13-15). If any place would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet against them and move on.
Matthew 7 (ESV) cont.. | Ask, and It Will Be Given
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The Golden Rule
12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Now, regarding verses 7 through 11, what is the context of this promise? Growing up in Pentecostal churches, I’ve heard this passage used to justify asking anything of God and expecting it to be given to me. In the previous chapter, Jesus expressly commanded His hearers not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth. He is not now opening the prayer requests as some sort of prosperity vending machine. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, don’t be anxious for what you will eat or what you will wear… set your sights on upward call toward Heaven, and God will meet your needs. We’ll address this again when we reach Matthew 10 and look at how Jesus instructed His disciples in going out. This teaching bears weight in those instructions. Yes, God the Father gives good gifts, and He will meet our needs. But our inheritance is stored up for us in Heaven.
The Golden Rule, as it is often called, is to do for others what you would wish for them to do for you. This should guide our Worship of God through our service to our neighbors. Don’t let anyone presume to skip the Greatest Commandment and hold only to the second commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself”, for without the first, the second is impossible. Jesus laid that out already at the start of this sermon on the mount.
Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Notice how quickly after summarizing how we are to conduct ourselves and deal with our brothers and sisters Jesus turns to the matter of discernment and false teachers. Guard your doctrine. Hold fast to sound doctrine, the Word of God. Remember this whenever someone tries to use the beginning of this chapter to silence Biblical discernment and just rebuke. This whole section goes together. What is the fruit of a false prophet? False teaching and false doctrine. When you recognize the thorns and thistles on the tree, you don’t continue looking for figs. Do not wait for the floods to come and knock down the house to then ask the question, “should I be building my house on this sand?”
Can a false teacher be forgiven? Yes, but not without repentance. Are we to call them to repentance? Absolutely. If they remain in their unbelief, we do not move from the preaching of repentance, we do not cast pearls before swine, neither do we endure their false teaching.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Indeed it does.
Matthew 7 (ESV) cont… | The Authority of Jesus
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
All authority in heaven and on earth were given to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Until Next Week…
We will pause our working through the Gospel According to Matthew, and take a look at Christ’s finished work on the Cross in preparation for Easter Sunday. After Easter, we will pick back up beginning in Matthew 8, hopefully keeping these posts shorter as we address each account in smaller bits. Until then, be blessed, and continue to spend time in the Words of Christ.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Amen. In Christ Jesus,